ABCC secures penalties against CEPU and site delegate for targeting non-union workers
The CEPU site delegate at the Cairns Convention Centre redevelopment in Far North Queensland has been fined for targeting workers on the project who he believed were not members of the union.
The delegate, Mitchell Brown, was found in the Federal Circuit and Family Court to have interrupted works on several occasions. Over several days Mr Brown said the worker’s words to the effect of “What are you doing? Why aren’t you part of the union and ultimately, “By the end of this site you’ll be joining the union”.
Evidence was provided that, on one occasion, interruptions from Mr Brown led to a routine drilling task that normally takes one hour taking two days to be completed.
In a separate meeting with the workers’ employer, Mr Brown was found by the Court to have falsely told him that all employees on the job are required to join the union.
Subsequently, the workers joined the union in the belief that Mr Brown would stop interfering with site works.
In delivering his judgment, Judge Vasta noted,
“The actions of [Mr Brown} resulted in the interference and hindering of the two employees to actually complete their tasks. This resulted in a waste of resources, the unnecessary purchase of another ladder, and the need to work for nearly 2 days to complete a job that should have taken approximately one hour. Industry just cannot afford to tolerate such wastage in today’s market”.
Critically, he noted,
“[the workers] also expended money on union memberships which they did not want but felt pressured to complete. It is instructive to note that once the union memberships were obtained, the spurious interference by [Mr Brown], with the work done of these two employees, ceased…These actions were deliberate conduct designed solely to overwhelm any resistance, by any of these three men, to joining the union”.
Judge Vasta imposed fines of $10,000 against Mr Brown and $42,000 against the CEPU.
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